Housewife | Can Evrenol | Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Housewife was the opening film for the 2nd annual Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. Writer and director Can Evrenol was in attendance at the screening and warned those present that “we were not prepared” for what we were about to see. When the film ended, I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t prepared. I felt more like I might have missed something. Housewife is much more of a cerebral horror film than a traditional one. Sure, it has some elements of slashers and other thrillers, but it actually has more in common with Inception.
Housewife begins with a prologue of pure terror. A young girl named Holly is a witness to her sister and father’s murder at the hands of her mother, losing her whole family in one night. Now an adult, played by Clementine Poidatz, Holly is still very scarred by what happened to her. She is fairly meek, quiet, and still has nightmares. Holly’s mother drowned her sister in a toilet, which causes Holly to still be afraid of using any toilet. Holly is now married and living with her husband, who is an accomplished writer and painter. They have been trying to have children, but Holly is secretly afraid of having kids of her own.
One day, some of Holly’s good friends invite her and her husband to an event being held by a new and popular cult. At first, Holly does not want to go, but when she finds out that her former best friend belongs to the group, she decides to attend their meeting. This is where Housewife starts to get strange. Speaking after the screening, Can Evrenol said that his inspiration for the cult leader was none other than televangelist Joel Osteen. The leader, played by Resit Berker Enhos, is a charismatic everyman.
Holly and her husband eventually end up in the dinner event of the cult, where the leader says that he can sense a new member of “the family” in the audience. He comes up to Holly and touches her head. This begins a series of hallucinations and events that start to blend reality and Holly’s nightmares together. These are the strongest parts of Housewife. The lucid dreams and astral projection sequences are interesting and total nightmare material. Holly’s past, and reasons towards not wanting kids, come right into the foreground.
Telling too much more about the film might ruin it, but I overall enjoyed the experience. The dream sequences are well done, and the makeup and special effects are very good, but the film is short and spends too much time with the setup. Only in the last 20 minutes does the story really go off the rails. By then, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the sub-par acting of the main characters. When speaking to the audience afterward, Evrenol seemed to make the characters’ accents part of the film. The awkwardness of a language barrier is definitely in the film, and it sometimes hinders the performances.
There are some twists within the story, and it ultimately changes everything that happens before the ending. Sometimes, reveals like this hurt a film. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the ending hurts Housewife, but I’ll be damned if I truly understand it. It goes full David Lynch fever dream in the final 10 minutes. It also has one of the goriest and most disturbing final minutes of a horror film I’ve seen in this year. Does that make up for its narrative flaws? I’m not sure, but if anything, the film is certainly ambitious.
I would have liked to ask Evrenol if he originally started writing the story as a psychological thriller, because it turns into something else entirely at the end. It almost felt like there were two different films here – one about an evil cult that has psychic powers and one about a woman who’s slowly losing her mind. Maybe it’s about both, but I can’t say for sure. Housewife will be dissected by many film buffs who see it. The main problem is that it might be too reliant on personal interpretation. With a film like Inception, there are only a few arguments about the ending. With Housewife, there are going to be arguments about what the movie is even trying to say.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess I was just hoping for either a straightforward cult story or a horror film about dreams. Housewife tries to be both. I enjoyed most of the story, and the visuals were very well done. Clementine Poidatz and the rest of the cast give some decent performances as well. In the end, though, it might just be a bit too obscure and meandering for mainstream horror fans.